The Shared Secret: Molestation in Black Families

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By: Vanessa White

Mississippi Damned, a moving starring Tessa Thompson, is a very real reality of many Black families today. The recycled pain, trauma, and abuse that circulate throughout generations of Black families are displayed throughout this film. Topics such as alcohol abuse, physical abuse, jealousy, incest and molestation are ones seen that trigger emotional responses from the audience. One in particular that hit the hardest was molestation. This "M" word is one I am hearing too often, and something that seems to become all too normal in the Black household. It is the shared secret no one speaks about, one that is shared between both genders in youth that are too young to have their innocence taken away. In season 3 of Being Mary Jane, this was a subject that was brought up as well, in an episode where her best friend, a 9 year sufferer of molestation by her stepfather, ends up taking her life.
In the film, Mississippi Damned, it is a subject that is hard to ignore, yet too painful to look at directly, but it never leaves. “Young boy molested by the neighborhood drug dealer, forced into giving sexual favors; molested molests younger cousin and ends up having sex with an underage girl, caught in the act, he decides to end his life.” “Successful medical doctor, volunteers her time with many charities, yet suffers from depression with past memories of being molested, and ends up taking her life”. When they say, “hurt people hurt people”, this seems to be true. The many successes we may accomplish do not wash away the stain of molestation; they instead place a temporary band-Aid that wilts, and falls away, only to be replaced by another temporary band-aid.
The question is, "why does this happen? " "Why do parents pretend they don’t see what is going on?" "Why do young girls and boys deny the truth?" "Why do we have this in our Black communities?" "Why do I know so many of my friends who have had these experiences?" "Why do their parents still not know?" "What is stopping us from being honest with one another?" Molestation is an atrocity. It is not a secret one needs to share, nor should it be a secret.

In our melanated communities, we need psychological help from a holistic standpoint, one that takes us, and our culture into account.


We need to look at this from a Black psychological perspective. One question I ask myself is, "where do we begin?" There seems to be way too much going on in our communities. We can’t ignore poverty and White Supremacy, which go hand in hand. When one can’t pay a light bill or is stressing about coming up with rent, what does one do with stressors piling up on them? We self-medicate. In the Black community this includes using alcohol, gambling, and anything that will help us take the edge off with what we have to deal with on a constant basis. Broke but still gambling? It does not make any sense right? Oh but it does. It serves as a way to get away from reality, a quick fix, and a small glimmer of hope for a better future. We have to start somewhere. Below are my suggestions, coming from a melanated sister to her many brothers and sisters out there.

1. We need to talk about it and stop making it taboo: Molestation!! Say it. Molestation. We need to start telling our business in the streets. This is something that contrasts the way many of us were raised. Ask your girlfriends and male friends: have you ever been molested?” So many people have sadly, and it starts with a conversation. Ask within your own family the same thing. Speak to your brothers, sisters, cousins and ask.

2. Now we need to take action for the future:
Spouse, girlfriend, and boyfriend: Ask them. If you both are serious about one another and intend to have a future that may involve kids, it needs to be spoken about. Ask them if they have ever been molested and have that conversation. Divulge if you have or have not been molested as well. Have a conversation about your future family. Discuss that neither of you will tolerate anyone touching your children in any inappropriate manner, that you will not tolerate either one of you touching your child in any inappropriate manner as well.
    The future: When you all have children, each one of you, both of you, have that conversation with them. Make sure they know their parts where no one else including you and your spouse should touch them. Make it known that they can come to you all if anyone ever does touch them inappropriately and to let them know that no threat said to them is great enough to hold in that secret.
Maybe the suggested above can help breed a new generation where it is okay to be honest, where speaking about molestation is not taboo and where we can take the actions to better our own mental well being generationally.

Some other suggestions to those who have suffered from molestation are below: 
1. Write out how you felt and still feel.
2. Tell or write the truth when you’re ready with who you feel needs to know.
3. Do a spiritual cleanse using crystals and your words: take some healing crystals that have properties based in letting go, healing and emotions. One crystal known for this is Rose Quartz. Take this and meditate with it on your stomach area (men), womb areas (ladies) or on your heart. Say this with intention: “I release the hurt of the past (state traumas: molestation), I release being a victim, I am honest, I move with honesty, I do acts of self-love for myself on a daily basis.” Repeat this as often as you like. Then close your eyes and meditate with the stone, think about releasing all the things said and envision how you want to feel after letting these things go.

4. Be patient and know that it will take time to heal, but know that you will heal.